Audio AIs impersonate former South Sudan leader Omar al-Bashir

Occurred: August 2023

Audio recordings appearing to show Omar al-Bashir, the former leader of Sudan, criticising the head of the Sudanese army have been identified as having been manipulated using artificial intelligence.

The recordings were initially posted to political channel The Voice of Sudan, before garnering hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok. BBC analysts identified several of the recordings as matching broadcasts aired days earlier by popular Sudanese political commentator, Al Insirafi. The evidence suggested that AI-powered voice conversion software was used to mimic Bashir speaking. 

While the purpose of the campaign remains unclear, The Voice of Sudan denied misleading the public and said it was not affiliated with any political or military groups. TikTok has since taken down the account on the basis that it broke its guidelines on posting 'false content that may cause significant harm', and its rules on the use of synthetic media.

The finding highlighted the increasingly high quality of deepfake technology and underscored concerns about how the technology is being used in Sudan and in politics more generally.

Country: Sudan
Sector: Politics
Purpose: Disinformation
Technology: Deepfake - audio; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning
Issue: Governance; Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance

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Type: Incident
Published: October 2023
Last updated: December 2023